Sparkle and speed
Pirates of Penzance
Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento just opened a sparkling new production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, directed by Robert Vann.
The sets are modest, but the talent more than makes up for this. A full 12-piece orchestra under the baton of Troy Turpen offers a perfect accompaniment to the cast. It is sometimes difficult to find a robust male chorus in community theater, but that’s not the case with this Light Opera production.
The women here are flirtatious, twirling pastel parasols while doing intricate choreography in the opening scene. Their “How Beautifully Blue the Sky,” a choral patter song, is spot on with vocal direction by Anne-Marie Endres.
With 60 years of performing Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs, Mike Baad has pretty much perfected them by now, as his Major General Stanley shows. His “Modern Major General” is sung at top speed, which makes the double-speed last verse, flawless and articulate, that much more amazing.
Carley Neill is also outstanding as Mabel, Stanley’s young ward in love with the former pirate, Frederic. Her powerful voice soars over the audience. Anthony Tavianini’s Frederic might not have quite the vocal oomph, but he’s still wonderful as the pirate torn between his love for Mabel and his “sense of duty.”
The Pirate King is always an audience favorite and Charlie Baad, returning to Light Opera after a 15-year hiatus, is no disappointment. He’s big and bold and funny and easily earned the cheers at the curtain call.
With everything blending together so perfectly, this is a production that will satisfy the most critical of Gilbert & Sullivan fans.